Colour is very important. Some people have very strong emotional attachments to their ‘favourite’ colours, designs and brands risk being ruined due to the ‘wrong’ choice of colour, plus colours each have their own emotional use in the world of design. All these topics will be covered in future blog articles, so watch this space.
In this article I would like to offer a couple of handy hints and tips for small businesses dealing with creative services companies similar to my own, Gabriel Design. I believe that it is important to trust a professional and to allow them to work and create solutions that will work the best for any given project.
That said however it is also useful for the clients, perhaps you, to have some idea of what is going on. Knowing your own colours for example. In many cases if you have a blue (or red, or green…) logo when you are asked what colour it is the appropriate answer is blue (or red or green…). Logically we all know that this is not always the case. Even ‘a blue a bit like Facebook’s’ or ‘a red not unlike Coke’s’ won’t do.
The colour palette your logo and branding use will have a range of references to identify which colour is actually is. If you are looking for some point of sale, some workwear, a vehicle paint job, or whatever, it is useful to know what these references are, and for what use.
Firstly there is the Pantone references. These are individual inks which can be identified via a selection of printed swatches and are usually noted as a number. For example Pantone 348. The large number of swatches available allow for gloss paper, matt paper, and a whole range of stock alternatives. If you have a Pantone reference or two then any supplier should be able to match to that ink exactly. Pantone inks can be printed as exact one off colours on a print job and may not always match…
…the CMYK colour model. CMYK is primarily used for printed colour images. You may have noticed the fine dots in magazines and newspapers which make up photographic images for example. This is based around what is known as four colour printing, the four colours being cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K or key). Pretty much all colours can be achieved in print using CMYK, although some areas of the spectrum is off limits and will require a special Pantone as above. A CMYK reference will look something like this, C100 M0 Y79 K27.5. WIth this colour model the higher the numbers the darker the colour, for example C100 M100 Y100 K100 is an intense black while C0 M0 Y0 K0 is white. The way that the colour is developed is about printing different quantities of the four colours on (normally) white paper unlike…
…the RGB and Hex models. These are on screen digital colours and are made up by the intensity of colour on screen of the three pixel colours R (red), G (green) and B (blue). The colour ranges from zero (no light) to 255 (full light) and the colours are presented in a similar way to CMYK above. For example R0 G130 B86. In this case zero colour is black (R0 G0 B0) while full colour (R255 G255 B255) is white. Many screen only colours, which can be viewed on screen cannot be printed using CMYK which is why sometimes images and designs can appear more dense on screen then when finally printed. A great example of this the blue which you may remember used to make up the colour of text links on very early websites. Although bright and vivid on screen this simply could not be printed to paper with the same intensity. An alternative to RGB is Hex, or Hexadecimal colour references which are made up mathematically by converting the RGB figures into a six digital hexadecimal figure. It really doesn’t matter how these figures are come up with, just that you may need reference to what your colour reference is when working digitally, for example with an e-marketing company. Hex colours are presented like this # 008256.
Although it is wise to work with a graphic designer, printer or digital design agency it is also wise for you to keep a copy of your own colour references just in case they are required somewhere you were least expecting, like an exhibition give-aways company. You may not have a Pantone reference, but if you do note it down somewhere, with your CMYK, RGB and Hex references. Ask your designer what they are and bring a little colour into the relationship.